Tom Kane's Blog

A word can change a mind. A sentence can change a life. A book can change the world

image sweet alyssum

Sweet alyssum?

I consider myself to be a writer first, t-shirt designer second, computer programmer third and a complete amateur at gardening. But I’m learning, especially about writing and gardening.

For many years I was a computer programmer, happily skipping from contract to contract in Britain and Europe. That came to a crashing end when I was diagnosed with diabetes. Lifestyle. It will knock the stuffing out of you if you abuse your body.

So, I settled down and for over a decade I’ve been designing t-shirts and writing & publishing my books as an indie author. More recently I’ve taken up gardening, but I can’t say I’m any kind of expert, though I haven’t killed an awful lot of plants, yet. I do greatly admire those who can give you a plant’s Latin name as soon as they see it. Me? I’m still trying to master the English names.

So here we are with a plant I’ve managed to grow for successive years from seed and I have no idea what it’s called. It’s a pretty little thing, as you can from the top image. It’s flowers can be blue or white, depending in what seeds I use (that being luck more than judgement) and I know it smells like a hyacinth, but isn’t a hyacinth. So what is it? Well, I’ve finally got round to doing a bit of research and have come to the conclusion that it’s sweet alyssum. No, I’m not certain of this but from what I can tell it’s a pretty close call, so that’s what I’m going to call it.

Apart from the sweet alyssum I know what everything else is thanks to my numbering system.

image seedlings

And eventually this new concrete garden will be less bare

and more full of colour than the previous one. The front of the house, above, isn’t so bad, but the rear

image rear of house

needs a lot more colour. To say it’s a bit bare is an understatement. But I’m getting there.

image rear of house2

Copyright Tom Kane © 2019

As a English expat author living in Cyprus, you may think my life revolves around cocktails by the pool. You would be wrong. In ten years on the island I’ve had my fair share of adventures and interesting experiences.

Read a free sample of A Pat on his Back – Only £1.99 on Amazon Kindle.

Living in Cyprus: 2018  is out now, packed full of photographs and over 230 pages in length. This book is three books in one with details of my recent trip to Australia and Italy’s Lake Como. This new release is three times bigger than any of the previous five volumes, 2013 to 2017 and at only £3.99 on Amazon Kindle is still a bargain price.

Download my FREE Books on Amazon Kindle

Living in Cyprus: 2015 here

Hitler’s Secret Atomic Bomb here

An Indie Author Quick Guide to Blogging here

 

Download my FREE books on iPhone
Living in Cyprus: 2015 here

Hitler’s Secret Atomic Bomb here

An Indie Author Quick Guide to Blogging here

 

image travel post Brexit

Today is the 6th of March 2019. Today there are only 23 days before Britain leaves the EU. Today the British government is still trying to arrange a divorce agreement between Britain and the European Union that will suit both sides. Anyone experiencing a civil divorce between a married couple will realise divorces are more often messy than amicable. There is absolutely no doubt that many, if not most, people in Britain, find they are becoming more concerned, confused and worried as the Brexit clock ticks down to its inevitable conclusion.

Today we could be seeing the beginning of a bright new future for Britain, or we could be seeing a nightmare unfolding.

Take the motor car industry in the UK. British cars designed, built and sold by exclusively British companies have long since disappeared from British and the roads around the world. Even those iconic brands that remain, like Jaguar, Range Rover and Rolls-Royce are no longer British owned. The rot set in during the 1970s and British car manufacturing is now mainly of foreign owned brands.

But the UK car manufacturing industry picked itself up and gained a lot of investment from several major foreign car manufacturers, and new car making facilities were built in the UK a number of years ago. Among these were Toyota and Nissan. Since that time of unprecedented investment in the UK, investment has dropped like a stone. This was not helped by the 2016 referendum that decided Britain was to leave the EU.

Now take a look at these recent BBC headlines:-

Car investment slumps as uncertainty bites
Brexit worries ‘add to car insurance costs’
Toyota and BMW warn no-deal Brexit could hit UK investment
Car investment halves as industry hits ‘red alert’
Ford warns no-deal Brexit would be ‘catastrophic’
Nissan says new X-Trail will be made in Japan, not UK
Porsche warns UK customers of Brexit price rise

That last headline is telling, because what we are now seeing is not only low investment, we are seeing some manufacturers saying they may close their plants in the UK and build abroad, i.e., in the EU. That will mean UK car prices will rise. Car imports into the UK will mean inevitable price rises. And that will mean price rises are probably inevitable across the board on all aspects of British commerce. Some price rises may be justified and some may be unscrupulous businesses ‘jumping on the bandwagon’ to make a quick profit.

Whatever the outcome of the current ‘last minute’ UK/EU negotiations, one thing is certain and inevitable, prices will rise and the UK consumers will have to pay that price.

Tom Kane © 2019

As a English expat author living in Cyprus, you may think my life revolves around cocktails by the pool. You would be wrong. In ten years on the island I’ve had my fair share of adventures and interesting experiences.

Read a free sample of A Pat on his Back – Only £1.99 on Amazon Kindle.

Living in Cyprus: 2018  is out now, packed full of photographs and over 230 pages in length. This book is three books in one with details of my recent trip to Australia and Italy’s Lake Como. This new release is three times bigger than any of the previous five volumes, 2013 to 2017 and at only £3.99 on Amazon Kindle is still a bargain price.

Download my FREE Books on Amazon Kindle

Living in Cyprus: 2015 here

Hitler’s Secret Atomic Bomb here

An Indie Author Quick Guide to Blogging here

 

Download my FREE books on iPhone
Living in Cyprus: 2015 here

Hitler’s Secret Atomic Bomb here

An Indie Author Quick Guide to Blogging here

 

 

image little girl in a flood

Aristotle is said to have made this remark. “One swallow does not a summer make, nor one fine day; similarly one day or brief time of happiness does not make a person entirely happy.”

Being happy is relative to the individual, but I’ve seen two swallows today and the sun is currently shining, so I’m pretty happy that spring and summer are almost here.

image Swallows

Having said that the dark clouds are rolling in again and it’s about to rain once more, and that’s in the space of typing one sentence! This has to be the wettest winter I have experienced in over ten years living in Cyprus. Now here’s a thought, would you be happy if your normal spring, summer, autumn and winter cycle didn’t happen this year? And how happy would you be if that normal cycle never happened again?

If my current experience of what’s happening in Cyprus, with longer and hotter summers and wetter winters is down to global warming then the only good thing is that wetter winters mean we may not experience another drought in Cyprus. But that can only mean some disastrous weather elsewhere in the world. One man’s good fortune is another man’s disaster.

With floods ever on the increase, and even Cyprus has had its fair share, the weather patterns are obviously shifting and we can no longer look forward to the sort of normal(ish) weather we used to experience. The frightening thing is, nobody actually knows what the world’s weather will be like in ten, twenty or fifty years time. The weather could become stable and not be too disrupted if we get a handle on global warming now and put a halt to it. But what happens if governments, like Trump’s America, ignore the obvious and carry on as normal? One thing is for certain, we are in for a roller-coaster ride of one weather related disaster after another at any time, anywhere, in the world.

Welcome to an uncertain future.

Copyright Tom Kane © 2019

As a English expat author living in Cyprus, you may think my life revolves around cocktails by the pool. You would be wrong. In ten years on the island I’ve had my fair share of adventures and interesting experiences.

Read a free sample of A Pat on his Back – Only £1.99 on Amazon Kindle.

Living in Cyprus: 2018  is out now, packed full of photographs and over 230 pages in length. This book is three books in one with details of my recent trip to Australia and Italy’s Lake Como. This new release is three times bigger than any of the previous five volumes, 2013 to 2017 and at only £3.99 on Amazon Kindle is still a bargain price.

Download my FREE Books on Amazon Kindle

Living in Cyprus: 2015 here

Hitler’s Secret Atomic Bomb here

An Indie Author Quick Guide to Blogging here

 

Download my FREE books on iPhone
Living in Cyprus: 2015 here

Hitler’s Secret Atomic Bomb here

An Indie Author Quick Guide to Blogging here

 

image Greek salad

Like a lot of people who live in Cyprus, I love to eat a good Greek salad in the summer. What most visitors to Cyprus, who tuck into those tasty salads, will probably never know is that the common lettuce we eat in salads has a long and noble history. Being the nosey individual I am, I looked into the history books and found some interesting facts on the lettuce, something that we normally take for granted. I discovered that the humble, crunchy, lettuce we love to eat had connections to where I live and one of my favourite subjects, Cyprus and Space.

Lettuce has its origins in the Middle East and appears on wall murals in Egypt from about 2700 B.C. The Greeks learned how to grow lettuce from the Egyptians and Greek mythology depicts Aphrodite’s lover, Adonis, killed in a bed of lettuce by a boar, apparently an arranged assassination by a jealous diety. Aphrodite, of course, was born in Cyprus, which is why Cyprus is sometimes referred to as the Island of love.

Eventually the Romans took on the lettuce and it was called lactuca. Over time, and thanks to the Roman conquest of Britain, lactuca made its way into the British diet and became lettuce in English.

Now the lettuce has joined the space race. From humble beginnings around 5,000 years ago, the lettuce and its relatives have now moved on from its lowly roots (pun intended) and the lettuce Outedgeous has become the first lettuce to be grown from seed, harvested and eaten in space.

I’m sowing the same seeds for the the lettuce Outredgeous today, in my tiny greenhouse, and hopefully by May I should have some lovely red, sweet and crunchy, romaine lettuce for salads.

Here’s to the space race and the eventual cultivation of lettuce on Mars. Now that would be something to write home about.

Copyright Tom Kane © 2019

As a English expat author living in Cyprus, you may think my life revolves around cocktails by the pool. You would be wrong. In ten years on the island I’ve had my fair share of adventures and interesting experiences.

Read a free sample of A Pat on his Back – Only £1.99 on Amazon Kindle.

Living in Cyprus: 2018  is out now, packed full of photographs and over 230 pages in length. This book is three books in one with details of my recent trip to Australia and Italy’s Lake Como. This new release is three times bigger than any of the previous five volumes, 2013 to 2017 and at only £3.99 on Amazon Kindle is still a bargain price.

Download my FREE Books on Amazon Kindle

Living in Cyprus: 2015 here

Hitler’s Secret Atomic Bomb here

An Indie Author Quick Guide to Blogging here

 

Download my FREE books on iPhone
Living in Cyprus: 2015 here

Hitler’s Secret Atomic Bomb here

An Indie Author Quick Guide to Blogging here

 

image Myristica fragrans

Anyone who has read any of my posts on gardening, probably realise that though I’m all for nice and neat rows of flowers that make a great display and attract butterflies and bees, I also like to grow things that are a little bit out there, plants that are not normal to a suburban garden.

Take for example the OutREDgeous Space Lettuce or the Hungarian Apple Melon. Maybe you fancy a nibble on a Psidium Guave or a little Apple Paprika in your Goulash and all the while admiring the colours in the Latana Camara.

image of Latana Camara

Latana Camara

These are some of the plants I’m hoping to grow from seed, but the one I think is going to be a real test to grow is the Myristica fragrans, or Nutmeg as most call it.

The seeds are the source of the spice nutmeg. These are powdered and usually added to sweet dishes like sauces, custard, puddings and cakes. The dried flesh surrounding the seed (that’s the red bit in the top picture) is the source of the spice mace which can be used to flavour savoury dishes such as soups, sauces, curries, pork pies (one day I’ll make my own pork pies) and pickles. The flesh of the fruit is also edible and can be cut in slices and eaten as a delicacy with sambal, which is a chili sauce or paste.

All in all quite a useful tree and normally grown in the tropics. It was Marco Polo who introduced nutmeg to the Europeans which is now commercially grown in the Caribbean, in particular the spice island of Grenada. Having visited Grenada once in my travels, I can certainly attest to the heady smell of nutmeg in the markets there.
Nutmeg is used in India to increase sexual stamina and the Chinese used it to cure diarrhea – not sure if there’s a connection between sex and pooh! Some herbalists recommend it for digestive disorders and vomiting, and has been used in treating palpitations caused by stress. Many in the west were introduce to nutmeg as an essential ingredient of rice pudding. But beware, high doses of nutmeg can be toxic and hallucinogenic and was once used by prisoners in jail to relieve boredom, sometimes leading to an untimely death.
Well, we shall see if I can manage to grow this from seed, though I don’t expect it to flower or produce fruit for a number of years, if at all. It may seem a bit pointless as I may well be dead by the time it flourishes. Well, that’s exactly the point, it’s the challenge that matters and if I succeed in simply growing the plant from scratch, I’ll be happy.

Copyright Tom Kane © 2019

As a English expat author living in Cyprus, you may think my life revolves around cocktails by the pool. You would be wrong. In ten years on the island I’ve had my fair share of adventures and interesting experiences.

Read a free sample of A Pat on his Back – Only £1.99 on Amazon Kindle.

Living in Cyprus: 2018  is out now, packed full of photographs and over 230 pages in length. This book is three books in one with details of my recent trip to Australia and Italy’s Lake Como. This new release is three times bigger than any of the previous five volumes, 2013 to 2017 and at only £3.99 on Amazon Kindle is still a bargain price.

Download my FREE Books on Amazon Kindle

Living in Cyprus: 2015 here

Hitler’s Secret Atomic Bomb here

An Indie Author Quick Guide to Blogging here

 

Download my FREE books on iPhone
Living in Cyprus: 2015 here

Hitler’s Secret Atomic Bomb here

An Indie Author Quick Guide to Blogging here

 

image of a daisy

No, I’m not referring to a property number on an address like Rockefeller Plaza or an asteroid in the Oort Cloud or any place else for that matter. I’m referring to a little stone I’ve just discovered and named.

No, I’m not bonkers yet, but I am working on it each and every day. Here’s the little rock in question.

image of a small rock

This is all to do with my attempt at cataloging my planted seeds as described in my previous post on the subject of gardening by numbers.You see I can mark up all my seed trays and tubs with numbers, but you can’t do the same with soil unless you want a garden full of little plastic strips that break up over time and cause a lot of damage to the environment. So, Rock 15 will be ‘planted’ alongside seeds or plants so that I can look up on my list exactly what it is I planted there. Of course, as it stands, Rock 15 will be joined by a number (no pun intended) of other little numbered rocks scattered throughout my garden.

You see, gardening isn’t a boring pastime for old folk. Gardening Rocks!

Copyright Tom Kane © 2019

As a English expat author living in Cyprus, you may think my life revolves around cocktails by the pool. You would be wrong. In ten years on the island I’ve had my fair share of adventures and interesting experiences.

Read a free sample of A Pat on his Back – Only £1.99 on Amazon Kindle.

Living in Cyprus: 2018  is out now, packed full of photographs and over 230 pages in length. This book is three books in one with details of my recent trip to Australia and Italy’s Lake Como. This new release is three times bigger than any of the previous five volumes, 2013 to 2017 and at only £3.99 on Amazon Kindle is still a bargain price.

Download my FREE Books on Amazon Kindle

Living in Cyprus: 2015 here

Hitler’s Secret Atomic Bomb here

An Indie Author Quick Guide to Blogging here

 

Download my FREE books on iPhone
Living in Cyprus: 2015 here

Hitler’s Secret Atomic Bomb here

An Indie Author Quick Guide to Blogging here

 

image of pansies

When I was a kid, Painting by Numbers was all the rage for a couple of years and although I was a bit messy, it did teach me the value of using numbers… if not how to paint. Numbers in my career as a computer programmer have obviously played an important role, but as an amateur gardener, numbers are once more proving useful. Keeping track of what’s planted where, for example.

Like my wife who enjoys knitting and buying lots of wool (enough to sink a battleship) I like buying seeds (enough to sink a canoe) and obviously planting them.

image of a daisy

The thrill of watching new life break through the surface and mature into a plant is pretty awesome. But until now, I’ve had a tendency to write on a stick what I’ve planted in a pot and shove that in the soil. Herein lies my problem. This year has been exceptionally wet and damp, so even with permanent markers the name on the wooden sticks I use has run. I’ve tried photocopying and laminating the seed packet but that too has run. So, the solution? A number on the side of the seed trays and all my tubs. Join this up with a database and my programming skills and voila, I have a pretty good cataloging system.

image of garlic

Garlic

Only one slight problem, how do I mark out the same information onto a plant in a garden? Because I now have borders in this new property we’ve moved into, I have to find a method to ensure I know what it is I’ve planted. Wooden sticks in the ground are not an option, nor are laminated seed packets.

image of herbs

Coriander, Parsley and Oregano.

How to know what the name of each plant in the borders, that’s my WIP (Work In Progress) in my garden this year.

Copyright Tom Kane © 2019

As a English expat author living in Cyprus, you may think my life revolves around cocktails by the pool. You would be wrong. In ten years on the island I’ve had my fair share of adventures and interesting experiences.

Read a free sample of A Pat on his Back – Only £1.99 on Amazon Kindle.

Living in Cyprus: 2018  is out now, packed full of photographs and over 230 pages in length. This book is three books in one with details of my recent trip to Australia and Italy’s Lake Como. This new release is three times bigger than any of the previous five volumes, 2013 to 2017 and at only £3.99 on Amazon Kindle is still a bargain price.

Download my FREE Books on Amazon Kindle

Living in Cyprus: 2015 here

Hitler’s Secret Atomic Bomb here

An Indie Author Quick Guide to Blogging here

 

Download my FREE books on iPhone
Living in Cyprus: 2015 here

Hitler’s Secret Atomic Bomb here

An Indie Author Quick Guide to Blogging here

 

image of daisies in a border

With a new garden to work on that has actual borders with actual soil to plant into, I’ve been accumalating seeds for this as well as for my numerous pots. But, I have an issue with some of the border area because it’s never been fully laid for planting, it’s still an area of gravel and building debris from the construction stage of these bungalows. Other parts are more than mature with some nice fruit trees such as lime, grapefruit, lemon, orange and cherry. Then we have the odd bush here and there and that’s about it. Plenty of scope for development. So, here’s the plan.

  1. Dig out as much of the gravel and rubble as possible and fill with good soil.
  2. Plan the planting of the borders.
  3. Sow the necessary seeds.
  4. Cross fingers and hope for the best.

There are three obstacles to all this. First is the digging out as it’s pretty hard and compacted rubbish and gravel in most of the poor borders. Second it’s rained so much in the last few weeks my compost bins have become waterlogged. And third it’s just too wet to get anything done. Even the patio paved areas have given up the ghost and allowed the growth of the mouldy green sludge you get from excess rainwater on stone.

Add to this the battle I’m fighting with some mould inside the house – Cyprus houses aren’t built for damp and wet weather. Then we have poor old Harvey, our elderly English Springer who is slowly recovering from two major operations. And finally I have a large workload on for t-shirt design, embroidery and vinyl print. That’s not to mention finishing writing my book The Brittle Sea.

Who said retirement is a time to take things easy?

Copyright Tom Kane © 2019

As a English expat author living in Cyprus, you may think my life revolves around cocktails by the pool. You would be wrong. In ten years on the island I’ve had my fair share of adventures and interesting experiences.

Read a free sample of A Pat on his Back – Only £1.99 on Amazon Kindle.

Living in Cyprus: 2018  is out now, packed full of photographs and over 230 pages in length. This book is three books in one with details of my recent trip to Australia and Italy’s Lake Como. This new release is three times bigger than any of the previous five volumes, 2013 to 2017 and at only £3.99 on Amazon Kindle is still a bargain price.

Download my FREE Books on Amazon Kindle

Living in Cyprus: 2015 here

Hitler’s Secret Atomic Bomb here

An Indie Author Quick Guide to Blogging here

 

Download my FREE books on iPhone
Living in Cyprus: 2015 here

Hitler’s Secret Atomic Bomb here

An Indie Author Quick Guide to Blogging here

 

image of The Brittle Sea Omnibus Edition

Ever been in the process of creating something you think is pretty unique and then realise it’s all been done before? Well, that’s what I’m in the process of re-inventing, but with a modern twist.

Although I’m congratulating myself on the idea of publishing The Brittle Sea (read extracts from the start here) in three parts, as a serial, I realise the Victorians did it before me, as mentioned in Publishing Information #2. Today I’ve woken at 2am with the exciting (to me) thought that when I publish all three parts to The Brittle Sea, i.e., the complete novel, maybe I should call it something special. The Brittle Sea: Big Book maybe? Nope, The Brittle Sea: Omnibus, that’s the one. But the Victorians obviously got there first – doh!

So, the full novel will be published as The Brittle Sea: Omnibus which has a much better ring to it. Full of bright ideas, me! Maybe I’m a reincarnated Victorian publisher or maybe I just like reinventing the wheel.

We can all learn something from the past.

Publishing date to be announced soon.

Tom Kane © 2019

Living in Cyprus: 2018  is out now, packed full of photographs and over 230 pages in length. This book is three books in one with details of my recent trip to Australia and Italy’s Lake Como. This new release is three times bigger than any of the previous five volumes, 2013 to 2017 and at only £3.99 on Amazon Kindle is still a bargain price.

As a English expat author living in Cyprus, you may think my life revolves around cocktails by the pool. You would be wrong. In ten years on the island I’ve had my fair share of adventures and interesting experiences.

Read a free sample of A Pat on his Back – Only £1.99 on Amazon Kindle.

Download my FREE Books on Amazon Kindle

Living in Cyprus: 2015 here

Hitler’s Secret Atomic Bomb here

An Indie Author Quick Guide to Blogging here

Download my FREE books on iPhone

Living in Cyprus: 2015 here

Hitler’s Secret Atomic Bomb here

An Indie Author Quick Guide to Blogging here

 

 

 

 

image of the Brittle Sea Book One cover

Why a Serialisation?

I have been asked about my decision to publish The Brittle Sea in three parts, and what exactly a serialised novel is.

A serial novel is a work of fiction published as sequential installments. These can be published in weekly or monthly installments, or indeed at any interval the author desires, but weekly and monthly installments are the most usual.

The answer to why a serialisation is a hark back to the 1800s. Books were relatively expensive in Victorian and Edwardian times and the serialised novel was at its most popular. This type of publishing gave the author a wider audience because of the inexpensive cost to buying a newspaper. A complete book would be a revised version of the full serialisation and published as a complete novel.

What I want to be able to do is reach a wider audience, build up a sense of expectation and gauge how the novel is received by the public. Publishing a full novel takes time. Not only have I got to write the novel, I have to edit it, format it and market it, all on my lonesome. I have no backroom team of proof-readers, editors and cover designers, let alone a marketing team. So for me to plunge myself into a speculative full novel is quite an undertaking.

Serialised novels have generally been published in newspapers and magazines as well as other periodicals. In modern times I see no reason why a novel can’t be serialised on kindle, iBook and Kobo. Admittedly it’s not something one sees so much these days, but in the past some famous authors serialised their novels.

Charles Dickens published all of his novels in serial form first and is often credited as being the father of serialisation. It’s quite a surprise to many avid readers as to how many of their favourite novels started out as serialisations.

Alexander Dumas, H.G. Wells, Harriet Beacher Stowe, William Makepeace Thackery, Jules Verne, Leo Tolstoy, Robert Louis Stevenson, Thomas Hardy and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle all published novels in serial form before publishing the complete novel.

Make no mistake, I’m not sticking my name in there to make myself look anywhere near as good as the likes of James Joyce, but simply to show it’s been a time honoured way of publishing. It can also save the reader a lot of money. If you pay out £1.49 ($1.93 or €1.70) for Book One and hate it, you’ve then saved yourself some money because you won’t want to buy books 2 & 3 at that price or the full novel at £4.99, so I’m actually doing my readers a favour.

I have another two chapters to write before I publish Book One, so I’m looking at mid March to have it ready and on the shelves. Then it’s over to you, dear reader, to see how far The Brittle Sea goes.

Tom Kane © 2019

Living in Cyprus: 2018  is out now, packed full of photographs and over 230 pages in length. This book is three books in one with details of my recent trip to Australia and Italy’s Lake Como. This new release is three times bigger than any of the previous five volumes, 2013 to 2017 and at only £3.99 on Amazon Kindle is still a bargain price.

As a English expat author living in Cyprus, you may think my life revolves around cocktails by the pool. You would be wrong. In ten years on the island I’ve had my fair share of adventures and interesting experiences.

Read a free sample of A Pat on his Back – Only £1.99 on Amazon Kindle.

Download my FREE Books on Amazon Kindle

Living in Cyprus: 2015 here

Hitler’s Secret Atomic Bomb here

An Indie Author Quick Guide to Blogging here

Download my FREE books on iPhone

Living in Cyprus: 2015 here

Hitler’s Secret Atomic Bomb here

An Indie Author Quick Guide to Blogging here